The XAT decision making section is said to be the "make-or-break" section of the exam, and tests candidates' ethical and analytical abilities. The section can also be very lengthy, with the density and length of questions throwing off test takers. So is there a simple formula to attempt this section? What kind of strategies did those who finally made it to XLRI make use of while attempting the DM section? Here is a compilation of tips and strategies from 7 XAT toppers!
(XLRI Jamshedpur, Batch of 2022) "They Key Is To Throw Your Personal Opinions Out of The Window"
For honing your Decision Making ability the best way to go about is to practice the previous years’ paper. After you have gone through a few questions you might be able to identify a pattern. It is necessary that you practice all types of caselets. There are generally two kinds of caselets that have appeared in the past- (a) data analysis kind which is similar to the data interpretation section in CAT (b) story based which is given to check your managerial abilities. This section is similar to the reading comprehension and critical reasoning section in CAT.
The key to solving a decision making caselet or a reading comprehension is to throw your personal opinions out of the window. Now, this can be slightly difficult as it’s a human tendency to take things personally but you need to learn to view the situation with a purely professional and logical mindset and answer accordingly. There can be many instances where you can go wrong if your answer is based on real-life scenarios.
(XLRI Jamshedpur, Batch of 2021) "Answer Logically; Do Not Be Swayed By Emotions"
The simple guideline for the XAT decision making section is as follows:
- Identify all the stakeholders being affected by your decision and chose one that satisfies the maximum number of people or harms the least (This is not a panacea, just a guiding principle and it shall fail at some instances).
- Answer logically, do not be swayed away by emotions. Do not choose options that are too harsh or extreme (like firing an employee directly for minor misconduct, chose to warn first).
- Do not focus on increasing or maintaining profits of the organization (avoid by hook or crook I shall have it).
- Do not answer in a way that displays undeterred loyalty to the organization even when the decision is unethical. It is part and parcel of the corporate world is not the mindset you need to have while answering.
- Go through the DM section specifically of the official last year's papers.
(XLRI Jamshedpur, Batch of 2021) "The DM Section Checks For Your Analytical And Ethical Abilities"
(XLRI Jamshedpur, Batch of 2019)
For the DM section, solve the questions from previous years. Compare your answers from the correct answers and then work over identifying the rational behind the answer versus your thought process. This would help you develop a framework while answering subjective questions in DM. Importantly, this is the only way to develop the right instinct for this section. Once this instinct develops, you’ll be able to answer a good number of DM questions accurately. Trying to remember too many concepts would end up confusing you.
A few points to consider are:
- You certainly don’t need to spend weeks preparing for DM. Solving DM questions from previous years in last 1–2 weeks will set you up for the exam well. Mocks aren’t that reliable for DM.
- Do not take an unethical (or less ethical) decision even if it costs money in the given situation.
- Keep the basic sense of business intact. For questions involving a situation without any major ethical dilemma, try to think like a businessman. That is to grow the business by earning profits and keeping yourself out of trouble. If it was your business, if it is what got you bread and butter everyday, what will you do. You won’t take high risks or do something that hurts your reputation, right? And if you are well off, you’ll think more futuristically but if you’re struggling now, you might want something for a short-term stability.
- For the questions requiring quantitative analysis, make sure you exhaust your options before coming out with a solution. Sometimes what seems obviously better isn't actually the best option.
(XLRI Jamshedpur, Batch of 2020) "See Questions Which Seem Absurd? Stay Away From Those!"
The DM section is a pretty interesting section as it’s full of stories and real life examples. Doing all the previous years questions might help (Somehow didn’t help me). On a high level, questions are an interplay of “ethics”, “maximizing benefit for maximum stakeholders” and “solving the actual problem”. For every question, if you’re taking care of each of these, you should find the right answer.
Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend any preparation for DM but surely have a strategy. If this isn’t your strong suit, ONLY ATTEMPT QUESTIONS YOU ARE SURE ABOUT. Getting 10-11 questions right is pretty easy and enough (given you’re not getting the rest of them wrong). However tempting it might seem, don’t make any guesses. I remember some questions which seemed absolutely absurd. Stay away from those!
(XLRI Jamshedpur, Batch of 2021) "Make Sure To Understand The Problem Through Various Lenses"
(XLRI Jamshedpur, Batch of 2019) "DM Section Can Be The Best Return of Marks For Your Time"
The DM section is crucial. Some do extremely well and some often land in dilemma. If you have worked in any organization before and have a good understanding of how the corporate world works, you can do this well. But for Freshers, I would recommend to go through coaching material specific to this and solve as much as possible. The idea here is to grasp how one should think for the company, also as an employee and also the solution to the issue.
Tip: Avoid the answers which seem too harsh or too lenient
Tip2: Some require out of the box thinking, so don't get your mind conditioned with the question completely, be neutral
This section if you have practiced well and can take quick decisions, will be done in just 20 - 30 minutes. This can be the best return of marks for your time. So don't neglect this section.
Preparing for XAT? You may also be interesting in checking out 10 XAT preparation and test-taking strategies by 10 XAT toppers.